It’s blueberry time!  Blueberry picking is one of my favorite u-pick crops.  It’s not as easy to fill a pail like apples or peaches, but it’s so rewarding.

We really like Wintergreen Tree Farm for blueberries.  Here’s a photo of one of the rows that we picked in yesterday.  The bushes are tall enough that you aren’t even in full sun.


Since Nick is enjoying camp this week, Sally and I headed out to the farm.  I wasn’t sure how it would be to have a toddler to entertain while I picked.  She did great.  It took her about 2 seconds to pick and eat a blueberry.  I love the guilty look on her face.  There’s a reason she’s in a purple shirt.


The bushes were loaded with blueberries.  Picking was especially good yesterday.  It was even better if you took time to walk to the back of the row and pick.  It’s hard to walk by ripe berries, but it’s usually worth waiting for the superb picking.  I generally will walk to the end of the row and then work my way back to the front.  I start out meticulously picking and then as the little ones get tired, I do some picking, walking, picking, walking routine until we get back to the parking area.


Even though Sally can definitely walk, we took the stroller.  I had planned to use it for gear and berries, but she actually sat in it off and on.  It worked out just fine.  Last year, the kids and I fell in love with Julie.  She’s moved on from working at this farm and Hannah has taken over.  She was nice enough to let me take a photo of her.  She’s worked chestnuts and Christmas Trees here before, so she’s not new to the farm.


This is a photo of the little shed where you start and end picking.  There’s a port-a-jon and two picnic tables.  They also sell cold drinks at the shed.  I ended up picking just over 7 pounds of berries.  $11.50 was our total.


I put the berries into these containers, delivered one to a friend, one to the fridge and the rest to our freezer.  Some people lay berries out on a cookie sheet to freeze first, but as long as the berries are dry, I just freeze them in the containers.  If I start running out of containers, I’ll sometimes pour them into resealable plastic bags once they are frozen.  That way, they don’t get squashed.


The photo on the right is to show the great color on the berries.  We’re hoping to go picking a few more times this season.  I haven’t decided if we’ll try any other farms this year.


While we were traveling, we stopped at a travel plaza in Allentown PA.  They had a Farmer’s Market which is always exciting for me.  The kids get excited too.  I knew there wasn’t much chance of purchasing anything, but we took a look anyway.


Here’s an overview photo.  Turns out this market was put on by one group, Haas Produce.  It’s unclear if they are growers or not.  My guess is that they grow some items and source the rest.


Nick’s learning that his role is to practice naming all of the fruits and vegetable he sees.


Sally helps too.  She’s starting to try and name items before Nick.  Sadly, this market consisted of locally grown as well as items acquired from elsewhere (other states).  All of the products were labeled.  So, if you wanted to truly buy locally grown you could.  We did get stumped on the “fresh” designation that didn’t state where it was from.  After we checked out the produce, Stephen helped the kids stretch.


And then we let them race up and down the sidewalk.  Sitting in the car all day doesn’t use up much energy.


I’m always glad to stop at a new market.  I was also glad that they wasn’t anything that I wanted to buy since I didn’t have any room in the cooler for produce.


Between my sister’s house and the beach house, we stopped to visit my in-laws for a couple of nights.  They live in Dover, DE, so they don’t get to see the kids very often.

Grandma got out some magnetic marbles for Nick and Sally to play with.


In preparation for a week at the beach, Grandma bought the kids each a set of sand toys.  They worked well with water in this test run.



There was also time for reading and snuggling.


And there was time for bubbles and play dough.


Here’s a photo of the kids with Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Derek and his friend Danny.


Here’s one of happy grandparents and grandkids!


Here’s Danny and Derek and one of them with the kids.


We had a nice visit and headed to the beach from here.

 Posted by at 9:19 PM

On Friday, June 22nd, we had the opportunity to pick blueberries with my in laws in Delaware.  They have a great U-Pick place just a few minutes from their house.  We visited Fifer Orchards last fall for apples, but this was our first experience with blueberries.  The berries were plentiful.  It was a very hot day for picking.  We were glad that we arrived just after they opened.


Here are some photos of the crew picking.


We were glad that we had water bottles, especially for the kids.


After picking, Nick and Sally enjoyed a few minutes on the swing.  I found the reminder sign interesting because I hadn’t really seen them before and I noticed them several times on our vacation.  It basically says not to eat fresh fruits and vegetables without washing them and gives specific procedures for washing and sanitizing surfaces etc..


A trip to Fifer isn’t complete with ice cream, so we all enjoyed some even though it was mid morning.  While we were there, my mother in law picked up some beautiful produce.


I always enjoy their displays.  We had a great time and ended up picking about 8 pounds of berries.


I’m not sure who was happier, Sally or Grandpa.  Everyone had a great visit to Fifer.  Some of the blueberries were made into syrup, we left a few in Delaware for the in laws to enjoy, and the rest were happily enjoyed at our beach house last week.

 Posted by at 9:33 PM

One of my friends from high school posted a link to the Herr’s factory tours on her Facebook page.  I knew that the kids would love to see it.  I’m a manufacturing girl at heart, so I wanted to see it too.  I decided to schedule a tour time for Nick, Sally, my niece, my nephew and I to visit the plant as our second field trip.


My sister lives near the BWI airport and the plant in Nottingham, PA was about 1 hour 20 minutes away.  I made a trip to the library Monday night, so we’d have a basket full for fresh books for our drive Tuesday morning.

Our tour time was at 10:40AM.  We decided to leave at 8:30AM since we had no idea how traffic would be since we had a tunnel on our route.  It turned out that there was major construction, starting the next day.  We really lucked out and arrived 40 minutes early for our tour.

We took a restroom break and enjoyed a few packed snacks in their picnic area.


When we checked in for our tour, we were giving these tickets.  Apparently, they use different products to help them organize the tours.  The kids really wanted to check out the gift shop, but I held off until after the tour.


Instead the entertainment mostly came from the patterns on the floor.


Nick liked the glass block and practiced his counting.  Soon, the Chipper’s Theater doors opened and it was time for our group to enter.


It’s really difficult to get a good shot of all four kids, but I keep trying.


We weren’t allowed to photograph on the tour, but it was well done.  We got to see real production, mostly from observation rooms.  I was fascinated by the fact that Herr’s gets 10 truckloads of potatoes each day.  That’s 500,000 pounds of spuds.  We saw them make several products.  The potato chips were last, and the tour ended with hot samples off the production line.

After a crazy stop in the gift shop, we waved to Chipper and headed back to my sister’s house.


Everyone had a great time and the kids did well on the trip.

 Posted by at 10:00 PM  Tagged with:

We started off our vacation in the Baltimore area so I could help with my niece and nephew.  I decided to be extra ambitious and planned a couple of field trips.  I’m pretty used to taking Nick and Sally to different attractions, but it’s a whole different ball game to take 4 kids.  The first day we traveled down to the Inner Harbor and went to the Maryland Science Center.  I had given my niece and nephew a membership for their birthdays and our Cleveland Museum of Natural History membership was reciprocal.  I missed the parking deck, but was able to find on street parking in a residential neighborhood just 2 blocks further.

After entering the museum, the Rube Goldberg device grabbed everyone’s attention.



While my nephew continued to be mesmerized by the machine, the others enjoyed some of the other attractions in the Newton’s Alley room.


Since we got there right at 10AM on a weekday, it wasn’t crowded.


Next, we visited the efficient car exhibit.


The kids took turns designing cars on the screen.  Anything that you are allowed to touch usually is loved.


Nick knew just what to do with the sound reflector.  Turns out, it wasn’t his first time seeing one.


Eventually, we made our way to the kids room.  It was great.  It was staffed at the door and that made it super easy to keep track of everyone.  I found my lifeguarding surveillance skills being put to good use during our outing.


Everyone seems to enjoy the train table.


Sally’s favorite was water play.  My niece liked it too.


There was something for everyone in the kid’s room.


I let Nick participate in a Johns Hopkins research study about kids and math.  Nick loved it.  My favorite part was when the researcher showed him a piece of paper with a seven and a four on it.  She asked him which one was bigger.  He told her that they were the same size (meaning that the font/height was the same).  At the end of our outing, I tried to get a group shot of the kids.  Turns out there was an experiment being set up behind me, so it was hard to get them to look at me.


So, we went over and checked out the demo before departing.  Once we got back to the car, we had picnic style lunch at the car.


It was a great outing and gave me confidence for the next adventure.


Two weeks is a long time to be gone with 2 kids in tow.  I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed tomorrow, but I’ve had a great time.  Traveling always has many adventures especially with children.

Here’s just a few of our travel related experiences during this trip.  It’s not always rosy, but we make a lot of memories along the way.

Sally got sick in the car on our trip from Ohio to Baltimore.  It’s hard to believe that was 13 days ago.  As a result, I learned how to take the new car seat apart, wash it and put it back together.  For the last 4.5 years, that has always been Stephen’s job, but he was still in Ohio.  I won’t be sad if I never had to do that again.  The next day, I found a car detail shop that would come to my sister’s house and detail the car while it was in the driveway.  It was the easier way to get the odor out of the car.  I’m probably the only one to have the inside of a car detailed the week before a beach trip, but it was necessary.  I think that a good vacuum to remove some sand, and it will still look great.

As a result of the car detail, one or more of the lights were left on in the car.  It was very hot and sunny and we didn’t notice.  My sister went to move the car so she could go to work the next day and it was dead.  We’re talking the car needed to be unlocked manually it was so dead.  So, I called AAA and they came out to jump the car.  Long story straight, they had to borrow some juice from their truck to even test the battery.  So, my newly detailed car received a new battery.

When we left Baltimore to drive to Dover, it was 100 degrees outside.  Our newly charged air conditioning didn’t work very well.  We had a hot and grumpy ride.  We bought frozen drinks as we entered Dover, even though were were only 5 minutes away from our destination.  I joked with my father in law that if their air conditioning went out in the house, we were going to a hotel.  After a few minutes playing in the air conditioning at the house, we were all fine again.

Later that night, Nick got sick.  That resulted in immediate needs for laundry that included my mother in law’s brand new bathroom rug.  A little medicine and he was all better by morning.  It’s a good thing that my mother in law had kids.  She took it all in stride and the rug was good as new after it’s cycle in the wash.

Today, our 4 hour and 20 minute drive from Dover to our half-way-home hotel, took us almost 8 hours.  We stopped for gas on our way out of town.  The first station had system problems and after Stephen waited in line a few minutes, he found out that they couldn’t sell us any gas.  So, we headed to another station.  Not too long after that, we hit some traffic.  In between, we still have air conditioning issues and it’s 90+ degrees outside.  We took a couple of more breaks than normal to keep us hydrated and happy.  It’s much easier to travel with kids if you aren’t in any hurry.  Around Allentown PA, we hit traffic again.  We decided to eat dinner at a service plaza in hopes that the traffic would clear while we stopped.  It did and we were glad.  A bit later, Nick announced that he had to go to the bathroom, just seconds after we passed a rest area.  Luckily, there was a McDonald’s at the next exit, just two miles down the highway.  Stephen was putting the kids back in the car and I was getting a drink.  When I came back outside, this weird guy came over to the car and told us we were in the wrong state.  He walked around to my side of the car and then walked away.  It was very creepy.  I had seem him inside and all I can think is that maybe he was looking for a hookup until he saw that I was with my family.  After 50 or 60 “how much longer to the hotel” pleas from Nick, we finally arrived and got settled.

Life isn’t perfect and vacations won’t be either.  No one was hurt, we had power the whole trip, and we didn’t have any storm damage.  We had a few inconveniences sprinkled among lots of fun and family time.  I can’t wait to share our adventures with you over the next couple of weeks.

 Posted by at 10:27 PM

At the end of May, we had the opportunity to attend a birthday party at Euclid Creek Reservation.  It was raining cats and dogs the night before.  But, when party time came, it was a beautiful day.

Nick and Sally loved checking out the outdoor gym.


Soon, they tired of the gym and traded it in for play dough.


After play dough, they tried their hand at skipping rocks in the creek.  Since we don’t let them throw rocks on a regular basis, they were thrilled.


They also enjoyed the playground.  Nick has no fear and slid down the pole several times.


Sally skipped the pole, but loved the slide.


The playground didn’t last long before it was time to skip more rocks.


After enjoying cupcakes and snacks, it was back to playtime.


By the time we left, the kids were worn out.  That’s a sure sign of a successful outing.

 Posted by at 8:00 PM

Along with buying the plants we needed for our new garden plots, we also let the kids each pick out something to plant at home.

The first photo is all of our plants just waiting to be planted.  Nick and Sally really love playing in the dirt.


Sally planted Impatiens.  She was super excited.


Nick planted Coleus.


I hope that survive the hot weather during our vacation.  The kids would be so sad if they didn’t make it.


It’s been fun to watch Nick and Sally get so excited about planting and watching things grow.  It’s really good for them to learn about it early in life.

 Posted by at 9:52 PM

Last week, Nick attended camp at Lake Farmpark.  It was for 2 1/2 hours a day and he had a blast.  Sally wasn’t quite sure what to think when we dropped him off.


She enjoyed playing by herself in the play room.


When we left to run errands, she was happy to check on him in his base camp.  She was even happier when she was reunited with him.  Most of the days, we just dropped Nick off and went to run errands.


On Friday, we met up with friends and enjoyed the park.  It turned out to be the perfect day.  Between dropping Nick at camp and our friends’ arrival, a new calf was born.


It was less than 30 minutes old when we saw him.  They named it Waldo.  He wasn’t even standing yet.


Soon, we were on our way to see the piglets.  They were almost 3 weeks old, but still were fun to look at.  The wagon ride is always a hit with the kids.  Today, horses were pulling it and the driver gave us a great ride around the farm.


Soon enough it was time to find Nick at the ice cream social.  After camp ended, we enjoyed a picnic before heading home.